Tampa Bay Lightning: Conn Smythe Favorite

Looking to avenge their loss in the 2015 Stanley Cup Finals to the Chicago Blackhawks the revenge tour has brought the bolts against some familiar opponents.

Remember the Lightning’s unceremonial ejection from last year’s playoffs against the Columbus Blue Jackets? Everyone remembers.

Division rival and this year’s president trophy-winning Boston Bruins? Check.

Now facing the New York Islanders this team will once again have to prove they have not forgotten the lessons of the past.

Front Runner:

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Andrei Vasilevskiy

The big cat is on the prowl for some silverware. Known as one of the quietest players in the Tampa Bay Lightning dressing room, he has let his game do the talking. The former first-round pick has played every game for the Bolts since the restart. How has he been? Starting all 16 of Tampa’s playoff games he has been an impressive 12-4 with a .929 save percentage, 1.98 goals-against average, and making the timely saves that haunted him last playoffs.

What leads Vasy over some other very deserving candidates on the Tampa Bay Lightning is that he is the rock on the back end. With top-level players missing time since the restart Victor Hedman, Ryan McDonagh, Brayden Point, not to mention elite sniper Steven Stamkos.

If Tampa is able to advance to the Stanley Cup Final it will be in no small part to the very big man who minds the crease for the Tampa Bay Lightning.

 

Darkhorse:

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Brayden Point/Nikita Kucherov

 

Can you separate them this postseason? While both have been out of this world players, leading the team with 23 points apiece and making plays like they have been together since peewee (credit to their hockey IQ and individual skill) can you separate them? Tampa was forced to in game 3 due to an injury to Point and while it was a competitive game, the Bolts were defeated 5-3. This dynamic duo is amazing individually but can you say one is more valuable than the other? I can not.

 

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Victor Hedman

Dominating on his end of the ice should be enough to have Hedman in this conversation, but the fact that he has joined a list that includes Bobby Orr for the most goals in consecutive games in the Stanley Cup Playoffs makes him a darkhorse for the Conn Smythe. The big defender was questionable after appearing to injury himself against the Flyers in the round-robin against the Philadelphia flyers.

This would have been devastating to Tampa’s hopes, but the defensemen has not missed a game. After a great series against Columbus, he sealed the series win against the Boston Bruins with the game-winning goal in game five. While he has been the leader of this Bolt’s defense he has oddly been jumping from powerplay unit 1 and 2, the truth is he will make an impact whichever unit but it is a conundrum.

 

If Tampa wants to bring the Stanley Cup back to the sunshine state for the first time since 2004, all of these players will have to be good to get there, but if the big cat is great he may make this writer’s dream a reality.

 

Be sure to read all our coverage of the Conference Finals teams and who our 4th Line Podcast writers think will take home personal silverware if their team lifts the greatest trophy in all of sports! Check out who was selected for the Vegas Golden Knights, Dallas Stars, and New York Islanders!

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